“If we did realize the difference between the vital few and the trivial many in all aspects of our lives, and if we did something about it, we could multiply anything that we valued.”
~ Richard Koch (former management consultant and acclaimed author on how to apply the 80/20 rule)
The 80/20 rule rules when it comes to marketing efficacy and efficiency for B2B organizations with a complex sale.
Given that I’m in the thick of 2012 demand creation planning for many of the B2B organizations I consult with, Account-Based Marketing is typically at the top of the priority list.
What is Account-Based Marketing?
The ITSMA has done a marvelous job of defining the Account-Based Marketing approach:
Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is a way to build stronger relationships with your most valued customers and prospects with highly targeted marketing interactions that demonstrate your in-depth understanding of their business and technology issues. It’s a way to increase your customer’s awareness of the total value you offer to heightens their interest in you.
ABM is a game-changing approach for engaging customers and prospects in a way that’s truly relevant to them, their business challenges and their organization. As I’ve discussed in many of my blog posts this past year, adopting a buyer-centric model of marketing is a priority for all B2B marketers. ABM, done well, can take this requirement to the nth degree!
What Are the Most Viable Use Cases for ABM?
- Breaking Through to Strategic Prospect Accounts/Audiences: If your organization has a defined set of targeted accounts that are crucial to your success (based on their potential revenue to the organization or strategic alignment with your priorities), ABM can serve as a powerful tool to SHOW (vs. tell) the customer your value to their organization (through relevant thought-leadership through to how you would specifically approach their unique business challenges). The goal is to make them (key decision-makers and influencers within the organization) aware of the total value you can bring to them.
- Retain and Grow Customer Relationships: Customer retention and growth can be one of the most fruitful returns for your marketing dollars in 2012! Typically, an organization may have a beach head in one division of a large organization or may be leveraging one of many solutions available by a provider. Why not leverage the insight you already have into the business (and hopefully the success) to penetrate new areas for opportunity? Again, it will be important to show value to the customer that specifically addresses a known business challenge or exposes a new area of growth.
- Accelerate Pipeline/Nurture Key Prospects: Proving your organization understands the specific needs of your prospect will help you establish credibility and build customer confidence. From my experience, this is a perfect time to accelerate the sales cycle (and ensure you’re on the short list).
Five Steps for Getting Started with ABM
The ITSMA has conducted research on the four stages of ABM (included below), however, I’ve added a 5th stage around alignment based on experience with dozens of ABM engagements.
- Align. Gain internal alignment between sales and marketing to ensure the most attractive accounts (and contacts) are selected as a focal point.
- Pilot. You need a few successes under your belt before you can consider expanding the program.
- Build. You begin to build a formal program by securing executive commitment to ABM and expanding the number of accounts covered.
- Standardize. As the number of ABM accounts expands, you start to need a governance model, a program management office and standard metrics and success criteria across all accounts.
- Scale. Finally, you scale the program by creating shared services and letting ABM concepts trickle down into other areas of marketing.
Success By the Dozens
For a great case study on ABM, please explore Nuance Software’s success (as featured last month in BtoB Online) or by viewing MarketingProfs Virtual Conference Series which featured a highly successful campaign in the session titled: Engaging Your Most Valued Prospects through Targeted Accounts.
There are dozens (if not hundreds) of other success stories about Account-Based Marketing. I’d love to hear yours.